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Feds Investigate Cicero State Senator's Scholarship Awards

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Aug 24, 2011 7:00PM

State sen. Martin Sandoval
The FBI is investigating state Sen. Martin Sandoval's awarding of $65,000 in scholarships to five college students who all suspiciously cited the same Archer Heights neighborhood home as their residence.

To be eligible to receive tuition waivers from Sandoval, the individuals would have to claim residency in his district. Sandoval blames the error on the Illinois State Board of Education, but his signatures are on the tuition waivers. The Sun-Times writes:

After being questioned about the oddity last week by the Sun-Times, a State Board of Education spokesman said his agency has turned the matter over to the FBI and to the Legislative Inspector General’s office for further investigation.

“It seemed strange five individuals who did not have the same last name would list the same address, and so we wanted someone to look into that,” board spokesman Matt Vanover told the Sun-Times.

The house at 4548 S. Avers is owned by 14th Ward precinct captain Rudolph Acosta Sr., who Sandoval says now lives in Florida. Ed Burke is alderman of the 14th Ward.

Sandoval says he has fired at least two staffers who were involved in processing the scholarship awards. Earlier this month, feds also looked at scholarship awards given by former state rep. Robert Molaro, who allegedly gave tuition waivers to each of the four children of campaign contributor Phil Bruno.

One of the students who received the scholarships is Michael Giorango, son of reputed mobster Michael C. “Jaws” Giorango. Last month Sandoval tried to revoke that scholarship to ISU, citing an "administrative error" related to the address. The other students are listed as Luisa Burgos, Adriana Cortez, Lissette Velazquez and Allison Madel.